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Thanksgiving Meal Shopping, Comparing Prices at Aldi, Fareway, HyVee, and Walmart

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Where do you prefer to grocery shop?  Aldi, Walmart, the mainstream grocery store? 

Shoppers tend to be loyal to a particular store, we're creatures of habit after all. Some folks like Aldi because of the consistently low prices and name brands aren't a concern. There are shoppers who prefer Fareway because of the meat counter and the ability to custom order cuts of meat.  Others favor HyVee because of the loyalty card and fuel points. Then there are those who do their regular grocery shopping at Walmart liking the one-stop shopping convenience for clothes, home & garden, and other general merchandise.

Here's this week's side-by-side Corridor area comparison of grocery store prices for Aldi, Fareway, HyVee (a.k.a. the mainstream grocery store), and Walmart, plug in the name of the mainstream grocery store in your neck of the woods here, ie., Meijer, Dillons (Kroger), Publix, Albertsons, etc.   Odds are that Mainstream is going to be the most expensive of the stores reviewed from week to week.

Covering the basics with a focus on store brands, this week's list, dated November 3, 2023, is a look into shopping for the Thanksgiving Day meal.  This is a list of typical Thanksgiving meal menu items, including ingredients for green bean casserole, and scalloped corn.   Items include a ready-made pumpkin pie (I hate making pie) and a few nuances, such as canned green beans vs. fresh, and fresh cranberries vs. that jellied crap in the can, and real potatoes vs. instant.

Prices stated are online prices and for items available at the time of the review. Remember that the featured items are the store brand for each respective store unless otherwise labeled. Prices can vary from store to store, as store managers have the flexibility to adjust prices, lower or higher. Aldi does not have the flexibility of the other stores reviewed. Prices are good as of this writing and could change by the time you make that grocery run.

  • Aldi: 2750 Heartland Drive, Coralville, IA 52241
  • Fareway: 2530 Westwinds Dr, Iowa City, IA 52246
  • HyVee: 1914 8th St, Coralville, IA 52241
  • Walmart: 2801 Commerce Dr, Coralville, IA 52241

Grocery Store Prices Thanksgiving 2023 IC

Takeaways from this week's price review:

  • Aldi is the cheapest place to shop for your Thanksgiving meal.  The store is consistently the lowest in online pricing of the four stores from week to week.  Keep in mind their online prices are higher than in-store prices, so you'll spend even less than what's listed when shopping in-store. Aldi uniquely does this to cover their employee cost of personal shopping for your delivery or pickup order.  Look at the HUGE price gap vs. HyVee, to a lesser extent vs. Fareway, and still quite a significant one vs. Walmart.    The overall Aldi price is without Rhodes Frozen Dinner Rolls, they don't carry them or a frozen alternative, so that price wasn't included in the total.  Even so, add in about $5 for a 36-count bag of rolls and the overall price is still WAY below either HyVee or Fareway.
  • Fareway used to be an economical choice kind of grocery store, but their upgrade trend has gone upscale.   Fareway is now consistently the second-highest-priced grocer week-over-week of the four stores reviewed.   They have a lot of red in their Thanksgiving shop price column, second only to HyVee.  Check out how much they want to charge you for a gallon of whole milk!  Unlike their competitors, Fareway charges different amounts based on the type of milk.  A one-gallon jug of Fareway brand skim milk costs $3.75.  The 1% costs $3.99, the 2% costs $4.45, and the whole milk $4.85.  
  • That HyVee is the highest-priced grocer in the corridor comes as no surprise.  This is consistent with every review.   Online pricing is higher than in-store shopping, but that does NOT negate the fact that price gaps between stores are HUGE in this Thanksgiving meal shop.  Aldi vs. HyVee, the online price gap is a whopping $38.73, favoring Aldi for Thanksgiving meal shopping.  You CANNOT make that up in loyalty card and fuel points.  Price gap Fareway vs. HyVee:  $11.09, you still won't make that up in card or fuel point savings.  Price gap vs. Walmart:  $29.29.   HyVee is GOUGING its customers for Thanksgiving!  Look at all the red in their price column, look at how much more they are charging you for the holiday goodies, the cranberries, the Rhodes rolls, heavy cream, sugar, sweet potatoes, whipped topping, and the all-important turkey!
  • The Walmart online pricing is the same as for in-store.   Walmart consistently finishes second in overall lowest price from week to week.  For the Thanksgiving meal, they have the lowest price per pound for a whole turkey.   Look at how much cheaper than HyVee they are for something as simple as Rhodes dinner rolls.
  • Observations:  The more Fareway grows, the more expensive they get, but I'm more alarmed by how HyVee is seemingly willing to take advantage of its loyal customer base by jacking up prices for Thanksgiving.
  • Nuances:  I threw in price comparisons for fresh vs. canned green beans and fresh vs. canned, jellied, cranberries, and real potatoes vs. instant.  People have their preferences for making turkey day classics and those preferences will impact the overall shopping cart price.  For a name-brand nuance, you can go with name-brand chicken broth, Swanson, but I don't know why you would.  Sure, you can spend a little less, $1.26 at HyVee, but you get less broth.  The cans are 14.5 ounces vs the 32-ounce cartons.  If you buy the Swanson 32-ounce carton ($1.97 at Walmart is the cheapest, but 97 cents more than Walmart's Great Value chicken broth in the 32-ounce carton), you'll spend more, and here's the kicker, it doesn't have notable, better flavor.  Not 97 cents worth anyway... 

Don't see some essential items that you think should be on the list?  Please comment.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related: Mainstream Grocery vs. Discount Grocery: Dillon's (Kroger) vs. Aldi

Related: Food Review: Great Value bacon not such a great value

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UPDATE: Aldi now has whole turkeys (frozen) available for $1.27/lb.

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